Have you checked out the Feb 06 TAS? It has a review on the VK-600M SE's by RH. It also has an interview with VK in it and a response from BAT. In BAT's response to the glowing review, they claim that the VK-600SE and the VK-150SE's sonic signature are identical. Supposedly they were 'voiced' to sound alike.
I've heard the VK-75SE and the VK-120 mono's, but I've never owned either. I've also never heard a pair of the VK-150SE's. That being said, I own an all BAT system, with the VK-600SE as my amp, I'm very happy.
Jmcgrogan2 - Be cautious of BAT reviews in TAS, when TAS reviewed the VK300XSE, some of the 'reviewers impressions' were an exact duplicate of what was written on the BAT website. E.G., effect of pre-amp section type on sound. I suppose it could be coincidence.
Jeff, thanks for the warning. I'm not that familiar with TAS. I've owned my VK-600SE for 8 months now, and as stated, the review in TAS just came out, so it had no bearing on my choice.
I did chat at AA with someone else who claims he visited the BAT factory and heard the VK-600SE and the VK-150SE and claimed he could not tell them apart. He also said that BAT claimed they were voiced alike. I guess that's why I leaned towards the VK-600SE. I already have 22 tubes in my system, why add the cost of more tubes if it sounds the same?
If these amplifiers truly sound EXACTLY the same, what is the benefit of the 150SE's? They cost more, there's the issue of tube replacement/maintenance, they have far less dynamic headroom, etc. I have to believe there are some differences in ambience, decays and portrayal of space here.
Owner of BAT 75SE. Even though never heard the solid state BAT gears, but I am willing to bet my whole system I can tell them apart, 10 out of 10 times, between 150SE and 600SE.
Jafox's statement is dead on, what's the point of making 150SE if 600SE does the job for less?
Well, the 150SE doesn't really do the job for less, in fact it's quite the opposite. The 150SE's are the mono version of the VK-75SE's. The VK-600M SE are the mono version of the VK-600SE. The VK-150 SE sell for $15K, the VK-600M SE sell for $23K. So I think BAT is actually comparing the sound of the VK-75SE ($8500) to the VK-600SE ( $11,500). The stereo version just falls more in line with the power output of the 150SE's.
Does this make sense?
A valid comparison would be the 75SE vs. the 600SE, OR the 150SE's vs. 600M SE's, on speakers which do not favor the more powerful SS amps over the lesser powered tube amps. (An inefficient speaker that often dips down to 4 ohms or less would favor the more powerful SS amps especially playing loud rock or orchestral music). Given a level playing field, I would guess that a difference could be heard. You pick your favorite flavor.
John - I understand the hierarchy and costs of the varying tube vs. ss, and stereo vs. mono amps here, but this does not address my initial point and that of Semi: if the VK-600SE (2-channel version) sells less than the pair of 150SE's, and if there is no sonic difference between these models, then what is the benefit of the mono 150SE's? Why does anyone want to pay $4k more for a less powerful and higher maintenance pair of tube amps? The VK-600MSE (mono amps) are not at all relevant to the discussion at this point.
You stated that RH in TAS reported, "they claim that the VK-600SE and the VK-150SE's sonic signature are identical". Does this imply that there is no benefit from tubes AND there is also no benefit from mono amps? This is a mighty tough claim to believe.
I wish the comparison had been between the 75SE vs. the 600SE OR perhaps the 150SE vs. the 600MSE. This at least reduces the change to simply tube vs. ss and of course the benefits of the higher power provided by the ss.
Jafox, the actual comment was made in the BAT response to the review, not by RH. The response, signed by Victor, Steve and Geoff states:
"Indeed, one can listen to our reference VK-150SE tube monoblocks and upon immediately switching to the VK-600SE, be surprised not by the difference in sound, but by the remarkable similarity that has been achieved across our solid state and tube designs."
So maybe I erred by using the word identical. BAT's claim is that they sound remarkably similar, but not identical. The gent who claimed that he heard both units at the BAT factory and could not tell the difference, told me that BAT supposedly 'voiced' them to sound alike.
As to why BAT would do this, I have no answer for that. Perhaps to capture those who are after tube amps as well as those who prefer solid state.
I see you have Watt/Puppy 6. Before you buy up to more power, consider trying the Zeroimpedance.com Autoformers with your 75wpc stereo amp. I have the VK75SE and W3P2s. The 4x impedance multiplier of the Autoformer inductor makes the Wilson into a nominal 16 ohm speaker, which greatly improves the damping factor and makes 75W of tube power feel like big monos. You move the speaker to the high impendance taps! The Autoformers add no editorial affect that I can hear. This is an amazingly effective remedy to the amp/speaker mismatch.
I'm all BAT too but not SE. I auditioned the VK-75 and loved them. Having a large room however I opted for a pair of VK-150s instead. What did it do for me? It allows my system to sound full bodied and complete at even very low listening levels. Ultimately, the character of the system stays linear even as you start playing louder. I imagine the 150 SE would do the same in lieu of a 75 SE.
I'm currently going up from a 31 SE to a 51SE. I'm hoping the difference is as profound as the jump from a stock 6922 31 to my 31 SE. Being half way around the world I don't have the luxury of a home audition. Fortunately past experience with BAT (from P10 to P10SE Super Pack) is good enough for me to take this leap of faith.
Hi, I had a 31se on loan while my 50 was getting updated to 51se status. The difference on the phono stage will be similar. The 51SE is a good step up from the 31se...nothing goes backwards...Just remember, a new 51se will take 100-200 hours before it sounds great (breakin).
Good luck !!
Have to agree with Kahuna about the upgrade from 75's to 150's. I went from the 75SE to 150SE's running into Legacy Focus Speakers. Increased power gives more control and of course, more head-room at higher volumes. I think there is always some improvement when going from stereo to monoblocks, however variable. I must say I am intrigued by Dgarretson's idea of using the Zeroimpedance product. May be an improvement even with the 150's, as the speaker and amp are made more compatible.
Hi all. I went ahead and bought my 2nd vk75se about 2 months ago. It's wonderful, a really good step up for my system.
I am glad I waited stayed with BAT tube amps !!